Media Violence Causes Aggression in Children and Teenagers
"The media, particularly the news media, defends itself from the charge of encouraging violence by stating they are simply reflecting what exists. Real people are murdered every day. Those who create fictionalized views of violence(movies or TV dramas) rely on the argument that what they are producing should not be taken literally. Only the mentally inadequate would assume the violence was real or try to copy the behavior"(Greek).
Violence has been present since the beginning of the medium and in our history: political violence, ethnic violence, class violence. "You go back to the KKK, you have people committing incredible acts of violence on a grand scale. What is different is the reach of the media. You can now put anything on the screen; there's no longer a sense of things being off limits," Eric Foner, Columbia University's DeWitt Clinton Professor of History said(qtd. in Cole). This is very true, broadcasting of the Vietnam War was America's first glimpse at the brutal truth of war. It raised the acceptable threshold of violence on television; the infamous images prepared audiences for the fictional gore later depicted in such television shows as "NYPD Blue" and "ER"(Cole). What about society's responsibility?
Violence in America has also been linked to economic changes. Economic hardships in the 1930s and the late 1970s resulted in the highest homicide level in this century. This relation persists today. Bob Dole and others believe it is simply the breakdown of family values, but it corresponds with deindustrialization. Rates of criminal violence have dropped significantly over the past 10 years, except among the young, the part of the population most affected by the current nationwide pressure on jobs, income, and opportunity(Cole).
The "traditional values" praised by politicians are vanishing because the economy that supported them is changing. The media has both reflected and contributed to this historic transition. But, are our children becoming media victims?
John Vivian's The Media of Mass Communications states this aggressive stimulation. "In Manteca, California, two teenagers, one only 13, lay in wait for a friend's father in his own house and attacked him. They beat him with a fireplace poker, kicked him and stabbed him, and choked him to death with a dog chain. Then they poured salt in his wounds. Why the final act of violence, the salt in the wounds? The 13-year-old explained that he had seen it on television"(398-399).
In TIME Magazine, Margaret Carlson reported on a devastating story. "When two thugs sprayed a flammable liquid through a token-booth opening, flicked a match and set Brooklyn subway-token clerk Harry Kaufman on fire--an attack that mimicked a scene in the movie Money Train--stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes expressed deep sorrow and said they were praying for the victim. Columbia Pictures stated it was 'appalled and...